Welcome to the Robin Miller Mailbag presented by Honda Racing / HPD. You can follow the Santa Clarita, California-based company at: hpd.honda.com and on social media at @HondaRacing_HPD and https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD.
Your questions for Robin should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. We cannot guarantee we’ll publish all your questions and answers, but Robin will reply to you. And if you have a question about the technology side of racing, Robin will pass these on to Marshall Pruett and he will also answer here.
Q: While I am all for any exposure the sport can get vis-a-vis Josef Newgarden’s demonstration at the Roval race this past weekend, considering all this talk about a NASCAR/IndyCar doubleheader was about attempting to revive both series’ flagging numbers at oval races, I don’t think it follows that running at the convoluted Charlotte road course would be the obvious choice. Please tell me that this isn’t the first (or only) track we’re looking at.
Also, in regards to your previous comments about splitting up 500-milers with current field sizes, here’s a thought: has anybody thought of trying, on an oval, a day-night double-header, as with baseball? The differing track and air conditions and the expanded broadcast window opportunities seem at least worth consideration, don’t you think?
Garrett from Reno, NV
RM: Jay Frye has said he’d like an oval so IndyCar could run Saturday night and NASCAR on Sunday, and I imagine Charlotte’s Roval is a possibility but I think Richmond, Chicago and maybe Gateway (if they get a Cup date) would be better choices. Never heard the day/night proposal but I like it – ovals need to do something different, and you could have a race, followed by a concert, and then the nightcap.
Q: I am not a fan of NASCAR on the Roval and I think a 1.5-mile track is too small for a road course, but after seeing Newgarden take an IndyCar on it I was impressed. I think it could really work for IndyCar. Bring on the doubleheader.
RM: The track length is 2.25 miles but those chicanes would need modifying because they would destroy an IndyCar. It was cool to see JoNew take a few laps, but the best part is that both series seem to be embracing this doubleheader concept.
Q: Josef Newgarden driving at Charlotte may have been one of the smartest ideas anyone has had to promote IndyCar. I’m finding it hard to believe it was a last minute idea from Shell-Pennzoil. Do you know the real story behind it? Thanks again for all you do for us.
RM: All I know is that a release was sent out late last week that Newgarden would be running a few laps on the Roval in his Verizon Chevy, and it sounds like more of a Team Penske idea than Shell/Pennzoil, but it got it’s desired exposure.
Q: I love the idea of IndyCar at Charlotte, kind of a stadium road course where the whole course can be seen from your seat. But Please tell me that IndyCar is not getting in bed with BOXCAR and going to be involved with something called a ”Roval”? Daytona has had a road course forever (1961) and no one has called it a “Roval” ever. The powers that be at BOXCAR (WWE) have screwed the pooch for a long time, and I would hate for them to get anywhere near the real racing that is IndyCar.
IndyCar fan, Ft. Myers, FL
RM: If a doubleheader ever comes to fruition, NBC will likely be the driving force and have a big say in where it’s held since it will televise both races but I think it’s way to do a hand ringing on where it might be held. It’s almost secondary to just pulling it off although I think a Roval might make it more logical for a NASCAR driver to jump into an IndyCar that weekend.
Q: Newgarden did six laps? NASCAR fans actually showed up to watch six laps? Autoweek says NASCAR fans were excited to watch an IndyCar exhibition. I find that hard to believe. If they brought them out there for six laps, they must’ve went away very disappointed.
RM: The interviews I watched seemed mildly entertained from watching it, so I’m not sure the number of laps had anything to do with first impressions.
Q: In your reply to Max from Bethlehem last week, you hinted at another possible scenario for Hinch. My first reaction after reading the first few articles about Arrow SP/McLaren was that Hinch would end up at Andretti (a Honda team) with Marco retiring to Indy-only status. Or that Conor is going to take it in the chin again. Am I warm? Yes, I know and appreciate that you put the moratorium on Marco talk so I’m just asking you personally. Also, I appreciate that you were your usual honest self and loved the eating crow article. Many in your profession would either pretend they never said it or pass the blame for the reasoning for their opinion elsewhere. You call ’em as you see ’em, and we readers love that! Now that the season is over, us diehards will only have “The Bag” to sate our appetite until next season – thanks!
Russ from Plainfield, NJ
RM: I’m not being cheeky, but there are a couple of things I was told in the past few days that really convinced me Hinch will not be at SPAM in 2020 and he will be in a Honda, but I can’t write them yet. The obvious question is where does he go, and right now the only place anyone can see is if RLL runs a third car. But Andretti is overflowing, and I can imagine six cars at Indianapolis, but not full-time. Thanks for your comments, and being a loyal reader. Crow isn’t bad if properly prepared.
Q: I find some contradiction in A.J.’s assertion that Larry Foyt is running the team. If Larry is truly in charge then why does A.J. say he and Larry will sit down and figure out the driver lineup? It seems the equity in the Foyt name is losing its luster. It’s looking more and more like a last alternative or a last stop for a driver looking for a drive.
John Fulton, Akron, Ohio
RM: I think we all know that Larry is running the team after everything is run past A.J. It’s his team, and he still makes the major decisions and always will, but it is sad to hear drivers say they’d rather not have a ride than drive for Foyt. He and Mario remain the cornerstone of IndyCar, and I wish things could turn around but it’s going to take one big change and I doubt if it happens.